tv The Stream Al Jazeera January 2, 2014 7:30pm-8:01pm EST
hi, i'm lisa fletcher, and you are in "the stream." we'll look at why non-violent protests could lead to historically harsh punishment. ♪ our digital producer, wajahat ali is here, bringing in all of your live feedback through the show. today we're taking an interesting look at what non-violent protesters are up
droves. at times resulting in arrested. robert f kennedy, jr. is a environmental lawyer, who himself has been arrested. >> when you have no recourse, we not only have the right but the duty to break the law to show our discontent and put political pressure on the president. >> however, a banner held by anti-frac-ing protesters in oklahoma have some concerned they are being unfairly targeted. oregon is now allowing contractors to sue for disruptive and costly protest activity. when does the activism cross the line? joining us is representative noel who has been fighting the
environmental movement for years. in oregon we have lauren reagan, the founder and executive director of the civil liberties defense center. and in oklahoma mariah stevensons joins us. she is a member of the environmental group, and was recently arrested for hanging a banner in a public building. there seems to be a surge in environmental activism from the keystone pipeline to those protesting widespread logging of public lands. what is about this that has all eyes focused on the northwest? >> i think right now we're seeing a lot of the defining environmental battles playing out, and as a result of the increase in publicity around the justice movement and climate change, we are seeing a very
dramatic increase in the number of protests even from 2006 until today. as a result of that growing public sentiments in support of public interests activism, we have also seen growing action on behalf of corporations and lobby groups such as the american legislative exchange council drafting model legislation with the hope of censoring activists and really trying to deter them from drawing attention to some of their very negative practices. in oregon we had a long history of both timber industry and ranching, agricultural industries, getting to the oregon legislature, and attempting to pass blatantly unconstitutional laws that target activism against those particular industries. and most of those laws have either failed in the legislature, or if they were passed, we were able to litigate them and the courts have ruled
them to be unconstitutional. but currently one just snuck through and took effect yesterday. it's actually a civil law that basically gives private contractors a right they already had. so basically the law legislated that private timber contractors that have contracts on state land forests, can sue activists who might hinder their ability to get those contracts completed, and of course under regular law they could have done that as well, but this is a little gift to the timber industry, particularly because state forest land practices are really contentious out here in the northwest right now, as less than 3% of the remaining old growth on the planet is here in the northwest. >> representative mike noel, you are in utah, but you have seen as a legislator these sorts of laws or bills popping up, not
just in oregon but really across the us. what do you think is going on that is causing legislators to think that this is rising to the level of needing laws to control environmental protesters? >> i can talk at least a little bit about my experiences here in utah. i'm a rancher/farmer myself. 90% of the ranching operations in the west are small family operations, less than 50 cows up to couple hundred head of cow. so call it an industry is ridiculous. so when you have individuals that come in and say i'm going to block you from doing things you have done are for a hundred years, run your cattle, produce feed in a renewable way, it's totally unfathomable they want to stop us from doing that. i heard your opening comment and robert kennedy, and it signeds
hypocritical to me, it would say that we could block clinics for people going to get abortions. here in utah we just had a gay marriage group, a constitutional right overridden, does that mean we can go out and stop people from getting marriage licenses? i don't think that's right. we have laws and reason for laws. i think the reason these things are pushing back now, and the legislation in oregon -- oregon to me seems like a very, very liberal state, but why they are pushing back is because of the extreme measures that some environmentalists have gone to stop the industries and small family farms -- we used to have a great operation here a small family owned operation, and 350 men and women lost their job
over things like the spotted owl, which we found that the barn owl was the one that was killing them. these are state forests, state forrests belong to the people of the state of utah, many of them are on state laws, which the money provided from those f forrests go to the school children. they are trying to stop the state laws that were set aside in every one of the western states to provide income for the school children. >> i grew up in oregon and lived there through the timber crisis of the '90s, and there were all of these predictions of catastrophe when a federal judge blocked the sale of about 24 million acres of timber, and the economy actually improved. and washington and oregon performed better than the rest of the country. >> well it didn't improve here
in utah. and i would say that those thousands of people that owned the mills, private individuals that provided a product, it didn't improve for them. it didn't improve for them, and what did it do? we have been managing these forrests for a hundred years. people need to be held accountable, there's no question about that. but it's gone to the extreme. when you block people's ability to do their job, the ability -- we have ranchers here who have had their fine shafts burned down, we have the county who have had their equipment salted and sugars so we lose the equipment. who pays for that? >> matt on twitter says the logging lobby is pushing this because the companies are losing money . . .
and give a will here. >> it is intimidating and even scary to learn about how the rhetoric of terrorism is being applied to non-violent protesters. we need to remember why this is happening? it's because these activists have been incredibly effective. as we move forward we'll see more laws and draconian attempts to silence these movements, but we should be inspired and continue to fight. >> lauren, quickly respond to will potter's comment. are environmental activists being targeted because they are effective? >> i definitely think so, and i think as they gain popularity and the profits of those corporations start to see an impact from that, that's when you will normally see the hammer start to really fall, and, you
know, in response to be noel's comment, 100 years ago, slavery was legal, and of course when it was abolished through civil disobedience, those farming practices had to change. they could no longer use african american humans as the equipment to get those practices out to the market. and so modernization has to happen, and when you have already desecrated the vast majority of those natural resources, you have to find a new way to make a living. >> all right. as these issues heat up, there is some pretty strong language that gets thrown around like'co terrorism. who is using these labels? and are they justified. tweet us your thoughts. we're going to get them in right after the break.
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four part series, as we return to fukushima only on al jazeera america >> welcome back. we're talking about how some lawmakers are trying to turn up the heat on environmentalists, and why. you, arrested in oklahoma for protesting frac-ing, and now you might be charged with terrorism. what did you do? >> um, i went to a non-violent peaceful protest, and i went into the devin energy building to their open to the public atrium, and i held -- i hung up a banner. it was supposed to be a glittery pretty banner that drew attention to some of the similarities between devin energy and the fossil fuel's
industry disregard for life, and the disregard for life in the fictional game "the hunger games," however, the glitter that was stuck to the banner fell off and fell to the ground. and at first we felt really awful, because we thought of the janitor coming to clean it up with a broom and dust pan, and we really would have cleaned it up for her, so i immediately exited the building, and my friend went downstairs and apologized to the banner. >> okay. get to the terrorism part. >> right. i exited the building and i was detained by police. they told me they were taking me to jail for something -- they didn't know what, but it
contained the world terrorism. >> so why may you face terrorism charges? i think you'll find out next week, right? >> right. it's basically because i hung up the banner and there was glitter. it was really because of the glitter. there was another banner there, and no one faced any charges because of that banner, so -- because there was glitter. >> lauren how blurry is the line between activism and' eco terrorism? >> right now folks were taken to jail for an oklahoma statute called theater the terrorism hope statute. so far no one has been prosecuted for it. and the line -- to eco terrorism
was actually a term coined back in the '80s by an anti environmentalist, and he defined it as any action taken to defend nature. and of course, environmentalists define eco terrorism of what monsanto and shell oil and all of these major polluting companies do to our environment. but after 9/11 and when that terrorist word became the new boogie word for anything anyone didn't like, the term was used by anti-environmental legislators and media pundits to basically try to malign or brand activists as something negative, basically spin doctoring the message in order to try to deter the public from supporting grassroots environmental work.
>> our community -- smj is with you . . . >> speaking about a protester give a listen to the story of chris. >> my name is chris. on june 24th, my birthday, i skateboarded into [ inaudible ] 6b. the line that spilled 1.3 gallons [ inaudible ] michigan against coalition against tar sand who is standing trial two to three years for peaceful protest. i also have an open fbi investigation, and even though my leading witness against me has testified that i'm very cooperative, i face two years
for felony assaulting an officer. >> are these anti-terror laws here being abused in a sense? this >> i have some good ideas. we're just starting our session in january. i'm going to be the first lawmaker to make sure i pass a glitter exemption for people that get arrested. [ laughter ] >> that will be the first thing i do. i understand they went into a private building -- it might have been a public area, but it is a private building. they blocked off the doors, and then put their sign out. that so me that -- let's go back to -- do we have a right to stop people from doing what they said they should or shouldn't be doing. >> but is activism a necessary part of american civil society, representative? >> i absolutely agree, and i recent the fact that lauren brought up slavery. my -- my relatives moved out of
the state of kentucky and brought black people with them to get away with slavery. a lot of people didn't agree with slavery. but we're talking about people that stop people from performing their jobs. we're talking about people that kill people. we're talking about people that destroy people's jobs, and their ability to have a job -- >> what about people like yourself mr. noel that ride atv's up river canyons when that is illegal -- >> that is not illegal. i rode up the river with over 400 people. that has been a road for as long as i can remember, the blm had their own people on the trail. no one was arrested and no one was charged -- it had been four years -- >> hold on a second, guys.
mariah you have been fighting for causes you believe in since you were 12. there have been references made to extremists here. what do you consider an environmental activist? >> i guess that's a really brood term and it could be any number of resistors. for me being an environmental activist has always been peaceful and non-violent and pretty much standing up for and standing against an industry that has hurt my family and my home personally and also continuously shows disregard for life. >> lisa our community has some comments about outside influences, i want to get that in real quick . . .
>> before we go to break, i do want to get one more thing in. we asked trans-canada about how protests impact their work. here is part of an email they sent to us . . . you can read their entire statement on our website at aljazeera.com/ajm stream, but lauren didn't these companies have the right to do the work they have legally won? >> oftentimes protesters are engaged in protests while litigation is going on, to determine whether what they are doing is legal. and just because something is legal does not mean it is right
or ethical. when you are talking about climate change, and things that will destroy water and air and directly impact the future of life on this planet, sometimes as the kennedy quote stated at the beginning of the show, there is a higher purpose or higher moral value that needs to take place, and when the government is basically in bed with corporations, when there's a revolving door of lobbyists to government and government back to lobbying or those corporations, then the masses, the grassroots, are basically the last gate keeper to the public interest. >> environmental activism is heating up across the nation, looking forward, how will legal changes effect protests. we'll have more on that in just two minutes.
fines, are you concerned that this will have an impact on robust civil discussion? >> no, not at all. what i'm hearing from both lauren and mariah, that one person's extreme views is another person's moral crusade. some people believe strongly that abortion should be illegal. again, do we block off all of the abortion clinics? ment some people believe there shouldn't be gay marriage? should we not allow people to block that from doing that? i'm fine with that. but if you do the crime, you do the time. we have an individual here that went into a legal sell of oil and gas leases, and bought hundreds of thousands of dollars with no intention of paying. i passed legislation that said that would be a felony.
and he had to pay the crime that he did. and it's the same thing with mariah. you don't have the right to stop people if you don't like the situation then change the laws. when we talk about the big corporation and their lobbyists, my heavens have you ever heard about the environmental lobby up there at d.c. with hundreds of thousands of people that don't have any skin in the game personally. i passed legislation that said if you stop a permit that has been legally permitted and they win the case, and they -- it's permitted and you go out and fight it that you have to put up a bond so in case the company that goes out or the large company, they are going forward with their project -- >> but representative is there an overreach here. we're talking about mariah, she hung up a banner with glitter on it.
she studies anthropology. should she have a felony conviction on her record? >> i'll pass a glitter exemption. >> i want to get some community in here . . . and lauren what is the future here for the environmental activist? especially in light of this advanced prosecution? >> when you combine the fact that some states like utah are attempting to pass laws that close the courthouse doors to activists seeking to redress their grievances through the legal process or make it so
expensive that normal people can't use the court system, and if you are taking what was normally a little slap on the hand maybe a fine or community service and converting it into serious felonies with the terrorist label associated with it, what you may end up doing is probably what you don't want which is you will drive non-violent activists underground. if the stakes become as high as someone who engages in direct action, then activists will say if i have to risk years in prison to hang a banner, i should do something that -- >> i have to pause you there lauren, because we're out of time. thanks to all of our guests for a very robust discussion. waj and i will see you tomorrow. ♪ >>
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